A Christian was discussing demonology with Jesus, and suddenly an evil spirit that looked like a monkey interfered in the conversation and obscured the vision of the Lord. The nature of interference was that the demon began jumping up and down, waving his arms and legs, and yelling in a shrill voice, “Yakety-yak, yakety-yak, yakety-yak.” Depending on your theology, you may begin to show some concern. After some time, the Christian took control of the situation by commanding the evil spirit to be quiet in the name of Jesus. The Lord complimented his action, exclaiming that if he hadn’t done something about that, I “could not have.” Now you should be concerned. The Christian also expressed concern to the Lord and enquired if there was a misunderstanding by asking whether Jesus meant he “would not” rather than he “could not.” Surprisingly, the Lord confirmed that he “could not”. Now you must be even more concerned.

This story is not imaginary. It is recorded in Kenneth Hagin’s book “I Believe in Visions,” where he describes his significant visions of Jesus and how they have dramatically influenced his ministry. Allegedly, following a request by Hagin, the Lord produced proof texts to substantiate that Christ was powerless in the demon’s presence.

The receptiveness of visions depends upon one’s Christian worldview. Regardless, there is no doubt that God has used visions in the life of his people in both the Old and New Testaments (we find over 100 references to the word “vision” or “visions” in the Bible). How do we know whether a vision is from God, Satan, or our volition?

The answer is self-evident if we categorize a godly vision as containing nothing opposed to orthodoxy and glorifying God. Those who have read Hagin’s other visions in the book will realize these visions are divorced from the divine (YHWH), authoritative source (Bible) because their content is broadly unbiblical; consequently, Jeremiah’s admonition may be apt, “They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” (Jer 14:14).  

We are all theologians, some good, and others not so much. Our hermeneutics define our theology, and our theology is only as sound as our hermeneutics. Further, we must have a high view of the biblical text to have a sound hermeneutical position. Does Hagin’s vision stand up to scriptural scrutiny? Or is it a decontextualization, over-simplification, and hyper-literal[1] interpretation of the biblical text that leads to what Hanegraaff (2009) names “scriptorture.”

Hagin narrates the vision by interacting with a jamboree of proof-texts (Matt 8:28; 12:43–45; 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–18; Jas 4:7; Eph 4:27), regardless of their context, to establish two propositions in eisegesis (1) Jesus relegated his authority over Satan and demons to the believer, and (2) that Jesus told him that nowhere in the New Testament are we instructed to ask Jesus to fight Satan or demons on our behalf.

The acceptance of private revelation to formulate doctrine represents a turn to a dangerous road akin to the cults and is an attack on biblical authority.[2] Any claim relegating the Word of God to subjective experience is a departure from the normative and authoritative role of scripture—a reliance on special revelation—and would stand in opposition to (1) “the Bible alone is our normative guide for faith and practice,” and that (2) “God and his will are infallibly revealed only through his written word” (Smith 2013, 107–108).

Although it is persistently and consistently levelled against the Word of Faith Movement (WFM[3]) (Hagin is generally accepted to be the father of the modern-day movement, “dad Hagin”[4]), it uses proof texts often in antithesis to what they mean to fit their belief system,[5] is it just evangelic hermeneutics of concern? I contend that the theology that informs the vision comprises the heretical demotion of God and the deification of man[6] (little god syndrome[7]) and other atonement atrocities[8] (another gospel, Gal 1:6–9). This foundational theology emanates from a metaphysical biblical worldview of human potential,[9] which functions as its central foundational pillar.[10]


Short Bio: After serving as the General Manager of Sulzer SA 1989–2007, Jose left the corporate world and dedicated himself to theology, earning his MTh in Biblical Studies. He has served as a lecturer at SATS since 2007, during which time he has also been actively engaged in course development. Jose is married to Isabella; they have an adult daughter, Candice.


Works Cited

Encyclopaedia Britannica. “New Thought”. 10th August 2022. https://www.britannica.com/event/New-Thought

Hagin, Kenneth 1972. I Believe in Visions. Tulsa, OK: Faith Library Publications.

Hanegraaff, Hank 1993. Christianity in Crisis. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House.

King, Paul and Jacques Theron 2006. “The Classic Faith roots of the modern Word of Faith movement”. Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 32(1): 309–334.

MacArthur, John 1992. Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

McConnell, Dan 1988. A Different Gospel. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Russell, Morris, and Lioy, Daniel 2010. “A Historical and Theological Framework for Understanding Word of Faith Theology”. Conspectus 13(1): 73–115.

Smith, Kevin 2013. Integrated Theology: Discerning God’s Will in our World. Johannesburg, GP: South African Theological Seminary Press.

Lioy, Dan 2007. “The Heart of the Prosperity Gospel: Self or the Savior?” Conspectus 4(1): 41–64.

[1] Flawed semantics, misinterpreting metaphor and figurative rhetoric as being literal, thus negating the central theme of the text.

[2] Most cults and false teachings started with the premise that their leader had access to new revelation (see MacArthur 1992, 94–95).

[3] The movement is referred to by many names. Those most frequently cited are the Prosperity Gospel, the Word of Faith Movement, the Faith-Formula Movement, the Health and Wealth Gospel, and the Positive Confession Movement. Word of Faith theology is not confined to a particular faith tradition, nor are its teachings; it does, however, follow a general pattern that has been assimilated into many evangelical churches (for a publication on the origin, history, and influences of the movement, see Russell and Lioy (2012, 80).

[4] Ruth Kenyon Houseworth (in McConnell 1995, The True Father of the Modern Faith Movement), president of the Kenyon Gospel Publishing Society, contends that her father, E. W. Kenyon, who died in 1948, is the man who really deserves the title “father of the Faith movement.” Mrs Houseworth charges that the eighteen books her father wrote, and published by her society, have been pilfered, both in idea and word, by the preachers of the movement (WFM). It would not be overstated to say that the very doctrines that have made Kenneth Hagin and the Faith movement such a distinctive and influential force are all plagiarized from E. W. Kenyon (McConnell 1995). Many of the phrases popularized by the prosperity movement, such as “what I confess, I possess,” were first coined by Kenyon (Hanegraaff 2009,18). Hagin claims that the Holy Spirit gave him the same words as Kenyon without having prior knowledge of the sources (Hanegraaff 2009,19), which he attributes to visions, revelations, and personal visitations from Jesus.

[5] Whether the movement is a metaphysical cult in origin, a Christian movement with many heretical doctrines, or authentically Christian with theological teachings and beliefs that are not supported by a responsible interpretation hermaneutic remains the topic of robust scholarly debate. Conclusiveness and consensus as been hard to reach because identifying the origins of the movement is no small task due to its numerous influences.

[6] Why does God say “ask of me”? Because he can’t do it on his own! he can’t get what he wants because he placed you in authority on this earth (Rod Parsley). Praying is man giving God authority or licence to interfere in the affairs of men. God cannot do anything on the earth without man’s permission (Myles Munroe) (Hanegraaff 2009, 143, 131). These teachings emanate from Kenneth Hagin’s The Art of Intercession; however, the principles originate from E. W. Kenyon’s book, The Two Kinds of Faith (McConnell 1995).

[7] The seductive hiss, “you will be like God” was first heard in Genesis 3 and continues to reverberate; (man)… was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority (Hagin). Man was not even created to be subordinate to God (Copeland). The believer is called christ…that’s who we are; we’re Christ (Hagin). You’re looking at God. You’re looking at Jesus (Cerullo) (Hanegraaff 2009, 132)

[8] Often, in our religious views of him (Christ), we forget that he was the first person ever to become born again (Creflo Dollar). The believer is as much an incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth (Kenneth Hagin) (Hanegraaff 2009, 184, 191). Hagin’s contention is plagiarized from Kenyon (cf. The Father and His Family, The Story of Man’s Redemption 1916).

[9] Consequently, predominately anthropocentric, rather than Christocentric, in its theological orientation (Lioy 2007)

[10] For a paper arguing that spiritual laws taught by classic evangelical faith teachers are the WFM informing theology and not cultic metaphysically laws, see Paul King and Jacques Theron (2006). The following provides food for thought: In 1916, the International “New Thought Alliance” (formed in 1914) agreed upon a purpose that embraces some central ideas of most groups: “To teach the infinitude of the supreme one; the divinity of man and his infinite possibilities through the creative power of constructive thinking and obedience to the voice of the indwelling presence which is our source of inspiration, power, health and prosperity.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). The concept of being “as gods” is a constantly recurring thought in the alliance groups. The view that spiritual laws taught by classic evangelical faith teachers are the WFM informing theology requires further research regarding the origin, influences and subsequent distortion by the WFM. King and Jacques Theron (2006) admit that not “all modern faith teaching is derived from classic faith teaching. Classic faith leaders have not only been in agreement with modern faith teachers against faith critics, but have also sometimes been, along with anti-faith critics, in disagreement with modern faith leaders.” The writer maintains that some WFM teachings are not too different from the metaphysical cults, “even” if they were not directly influenced by “New Thought.”